Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


The Never-Ending Sale

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Marybeth Burton sits behind a desk at FAU’s Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions in downtown Fort Lauderdale. When she’s not pushing papers, Burton is collecting and digging through trash all over Broward and Palm Beach counties.

This past May, Burton and six of her friends opened a store called Trash to Treasure Creative Re-Use Center. Located in a Fort Lauderdale warehouse, the un-air-conditioned 2,300 foot garage-like space contains stacks of Styrofoam, bundles of bottle caps, boxes of binders and bags of, well … bags.

The non-profit organization operates on one basic plan: pay us $60 and you can rummage through our trash for a year.

“This is the next level of recycling – being able to turn simple everyday excess or garage rummage into something you can really get use out of or display,” Burton says.

Trash to Treasure’s goal is to provide the community with a new concept on how to reuse what is already available. The organization aims to reduce unnecessary consumption and wasted resources.

The “junk,” as some may call it, comes in handy for local businesses, professors, children and even college students. Whether the item is for a company or home use, an art project or an assignment for a class, Trash to Treasure can provide that unique finishing touch. Some might think of it as a never-ending garage sale where rummagers can find just about anything they never knew they needed.

“It’s a wish come true for me,” says artist Susan Smith of Coral Springs.

After paying the annual $60 membership cost, Smith can visit the Re-Use Center once a month and walk out with handfuls or even pounds of whatever she wants. For Smith, that means snatching up sheets of unused donated vinyl – which make great drop cloths when she paints.

Smith notes that this form of recycling “forces you to think creatively” and is useful for creative artsy projects.

Burton, who believes today’s younger generation throws away too much reusable trash, began a new recycling program at FAU’s downtown Fort Lauderdale campus. Hoping to partner with Trash to Treasure, Burton collects reusable trash and recycled materials from many of FAU’s campuses and brings them to the Creative Re-Use Center warehouse.

“Students and even faculty members are throwing away too many items, like binders, that can be used over and over,” Burton says. “Being able to look at one person’s garbage in a different way to reuse it again is wonderful for the environment and an easy way to save money.”

Michael Heimbach, executive director of Trash to Treasure and 1988 alumnus of FAU, envisioned a better method of recycling than what he has seen in the past. In fact, he has worked for the waste and recycling industry in Broward County for the past seventeen years.

“Beginning a non-profit organization concerning recycling or reusable products that is open to the community all over South Florida is an idea come true,” Heimbach says.

So remember, the next time you clean out your room, office or garage, the items you might think are trash could be someone else’s treasure. If you’re interested in donating your trash or volunteering, contact Trash to Treasure at (954) 623-0603.

How does Trash To Treasure Operate?

Because Trash to Treasure is a non-profit organization, staff members are volunteers and do not get paid. The proceeds that come from the annual $60 memberships – which allow members to visit the warehouse once a month and take as many materials as they like – are used to pay rent and utilities for the warehouse. Non-members can also pay $10 for a one-time pass to collect materials.

Artistic TrashTreasure hunters reuse junk to create new art

From artsy children to creative professors and starving college students, reusing trash has become the new creative ideal. Most of the members who belong to the non-profit organization Trash to Treasure pay $60 a year to spend one day a month digging through recycled trash in hopes to find the perfect material for their work.

Even one of FAU’s Davie campus organizations, Owl Productions, is a current member of Trash to Treasure. To see how this group put its membership to use, see “B.E.S.T. Effort.”

Because of the popular trend to “go green” and to use everyday excess in interesting projects, Trash to Treasure plans to expand its current garage-like location and become a hands-on workshop that revitalizes “junk” into creative art projects that can go on display.

In fact, Trash to Treasure just held its first art show and contest earlier this month at ArtServe in Fort Lauderdale. The show displayed members’ unique creations using what they had found in the warehouse.

This exhibit will take place once a year at ArtServe and will demonstrate how members get in touch with their creative, playful side.

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